New twist in Harbhajan case?
A new dimension has been added to the Harbhajan Singh's appeal case with Justice John Hansen, the judge who is scheduled the hear the appeal, suggesting that new evidence in the shape of recordings from the stump microphone could be used.
Harbhajan, the Indian offspinner, is appealing against a three-Test ban imposed by Mike Procter, the match referee, who upheld a charge laid by the Australian team that Harbhajan had racially abused Andrew Symmonds by calling him a monkey. Harbhajan has denied the charge.
Justice Hansen, who briefed the media about the hearing but didn't entertain questions, said "there may also be some additional evidence, such as transcript available from the stump microphone, which was not available to Mr Procter."
The Indian team management described the new development as strange and wondered if evidence had existed why it had not been used earlier. "If any new evidence is to be used, then they will have to show it us first," a team spokesman said.
Anil Kumble didn't want to comment on the issue after the game - "We will cross the bridge when we come to it" - but touched upon his gesture to drop the charges against Brad Hogg before the Perth Test. "I did what I thought was right. We had a discussion and it was important to leave whatever happened in Sydney and move on. It was important from my side that we didn't force the charge."
Another curious information to have emerged today is that the feed to the stump microphone was withdrawn from ESPN-Star by Channel 9, the host broadcaster, on the third morning of the Sydney Test, the day which the exchange between Harbhajan and Symonds took place.
"Through the first Test and on the first two days in Sydney there was uninterrupted feed from the stump microphone," a source in ESPN-Star, the Indian broadcaster, told Cricinfo. "But on that morning it was deemed fit that only the host broadcaster should have the complete feed, while we could have access it to it during play."
While outlining the procedures for the hearing, set to be held at the Federal Court in Adelaide, Hansen added, "in accordance with normal sporting disciplinary hearings, and previous appeals, the hearing will be in private." He confirmed that the evidence will not be under oath.
"It will be a re-hearing," said Hansen, "with evidence being given by all those witnesses who gave evidence to the adjudicator, Mr Procter." Australia will have six representatives at the hearing: Ricky Ponting, Adam Gilchrist, Symonds, Matthew Hayden, Michael Clarke and manager Steve Bernard. India will be represented by Anil Kumble, Harbhajan, Sachin Tendulkar, manager Chetan Chauhan and assistant manager Sridhar. Umpires Mark Benson and Steve Bucknor are expected to be part of the hearing by means of video link.